Ease alcohol burden on emergency services, Assembly urges Mayor

16 July 2014

Assembly Members today urged Mayor of London Boris Johnson to take action to ease the burden drunks are putting on the capital’s emergency services.

The Assembly agreed two motions focused on relieving the strain public drunkenness is putting on Accident and Emergency departments and the London Ambulance Service.

They call for the re-opening and expansion of services dedicated to dealing with intoxicated patients at or near London’s night time hotspots, such as the Soho Alcohol Recovery Centre, and for the Metropolitan Police to take a more proactive approach to dealing with people for drunkenness.

Dr Onkar Sahota AM, who successfully amended both motions, said:

“Public drunkenness is a blight on our streets and a drain on precious NHS resources. Why should those in genuine need of emergency treatment wait longer for an ambulance and sit for hours in A&E departments because some people overdo it when out on the lash?

“Where people go out deliberately to get drunk and cause a nuisance they should feel the full force of the law. But at the same time we must recognise that alcoholism is a disease that needs proper medical support and treatment."

The full text of the motions is:

“Over the past 8 years the Metropolitan Police have given out a third fewer Public Notices for Disorder (PNDs) related to drunken behaviour, while in the same period hospital admissions related to alcohol have nearly doubled. The Assembly requests that the Mayor encourages the Metropolitan Police to work more closely with London’s emergency services to help target abusers and troublesome users of our emergency services.”

“In light of growing hospital admissions and ambulance call-outs related to alcohol in London, and the Mayors continued work to address the health implications of alcohol to Londoners, the Assembly would like the Mayor to look more closely at reducing the strain of alcohol to our emergency services. Recently the Soho Alcohol Recovery Centre (SARC) and the Booze Bus programme have significantly reduced their operation in London, with the SARC remaining closed since 2013. These services provided a simple and safe alternative to having intoxicated patients overwhelm London’s ambulances and A&E departments. Their benefits include savings in time, costs and distraction to our health workers. The Mayor is requested to work with the NHS and to lobby the Government to save and extend such programmes to help keep emergency services focused on truly time-critical life-threatening emergencies.”



Notes to editors

  1. The first motion was agreed by 14 and no votes against.
  2. The second motion was agreed by 14 votes for, to 5 against at a meeting of the full Assembly today. Watch the webcast
  3. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For more details, please contact Mark Demery in the Assembly Media Office on 020 7983 5769. For out-of-hours media enquiries please call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the Assembly duty press officer. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit, Greater London Authority, on 020 7983 4100.